Just as restaurants have shifted gears to offer takeaway to stay afloat during the pandemic, some of Melbourne’s best seafood wholesalers have made some changes, too.
After supplying the city’s top restaurants and chefs with premium produce for decades, now they’re delivering the same fresh seafood straight to your door.
“The restaurants shut their doors overnight, basically, and we had to act quickly,” says Clamms CEO Stephanie Kaparos. “We thought, ‘You know what? Let’s get our produce to consumers directly. Let’s give them restaurant-quality seafood – the best quality they could get, really – to cook at home.”
The business – run by the Kaparos and Andronis families – started 31 years ago as a St Kilda fish’n’chip shop, but has since grown into a wholesale company specialising in fresh, wild-caught fish from Victorian bays and inlets.
Some of its big-name clients include fine diners Attica and Brae; old-school institutions France Soir, Stokehouse and Cafe Di Stasio; and Andrew McConnell eateries, including Supernormal, Cutler & Co and Cumulus Inc.
“We work with small-batch fisheries. We had fish today that was caught yesterday, freighted here to Melbourne, and sent straight to people’s houses, so it’s not even a day old. And on the days we get Port Phillip Bay fish, consumers can have that delivered the same day it’s caught,” Kaparos says.
You can order local catch online, including calamari, King George whiting, John Dory, red mullet, tommy rough and flathead. All Clamms products are pre-portioned and vacuum-packed to extend shelf life. You can also buy goods from other companies, such as frozen vegetables, dim sims, beer-battered chips and more.
“We’re still selling to restaurants that are remaining open, but we’re also making these products available direct to consumers,” Kaparos says. “It’s quality they can [otherwise] only get at their Cutler & Cos or Cumuluses.”
Clamms delivers to metropolitan Melbourne for a $16.50 fee (it’s free for orders over $150). Order by 9am for same-day delivery, or by 11.59pm for delivery the next day to Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula and Bellarine Peninsula. Clamms also delivers to the Yarra Valley and Gippsland on select days.
Another premium supplier that’s now doing home delivery is Ocean Made, which also supplies Attica, as well as Shane Delia’s Maha, refined Collingwood eatery Ides and popular pizza chain 400 Gradi, among others.
The team at Ocean Made buys direct from local farms and sources wild-caught fish at the markets each morning. It’s been operating a shop next to its factory in the backstreets of Collingwood for years, but online ordering and delivery are new additions.
“Our retail shop is doing better than it did last year, but being in the backstreets of Collingwood, we’re a destination – you have to come here specifically for us. There’s no way for you to just happen across our store,” co-founder and director George Lucas says.
Lucas and John Christopoulos opened their retail shop after chefs they supplied began requesting fish to cook at home as well. “Anything that a restaurant gets, people can get at home too,” Lucas says.
The company stocks – and now delivers – salmon, tuna, barramundi, scallops, scampi caviar, rock flathead, Appellation oysters and more. Lucas says the colour and texture of Ocean Made’s high-quality fish sets it apart from what’s generally offered at the supermarket.
“Something like a salmon or a barramundi, you can just see its vibrant colour and know it’s fresh – it’s not a dull, bland colour. And the fish won’t be slimy; you want to touch it and not feel slime or gooeyness in your hand,” he says.
Ocean Made delivers within a 15-kilometre radius of its Collingwood factory (25–29 Robert Street) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The delivery fee is $15 (or free for orders over $100). Select preferred delivery date at check-out and the team will endeavour to deliver on that day.
Oceania Seafoods Select
While Clamms and Ocean Made started delivering as a response to recent closures, Oceania has been delivering through its online shop since mid-2018.
Yoshi Arai established the seafood wholesaler in 1983, delivering tuna in his van to the handful of Japanese restaurants in Melbourne at the time. Now he and his team supply some of the best restaurants in the industry.
“Comparing home-eating and restaurant-buying, they have very different quantities,” says Oceania’s Nori Koizumi, who helps chefs source premium, sashimi-grade ingredients and looks after the company’s big clients – a list that includes Chris Lucas’s Kisumé, as well as Nobu, The Conservatory, and Silks and Koko at Crown. “[But for both] we only buy in quantities we can use, and because we stick to sashimi quality, our fish aren’t kept for long periods. So you know they’re fresh.”
Koizumi and his team work with local fisheries to provide salmon, tuna, snapper, kingfish and more, while products such as toro (fatty tuna belly), sea urchin, scallops and crabs are imported from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.
“What’s different with our company is a lot of us here are Japanese,” Koizumi says. “Ever since we were born, we’ve been eating sushi and sashimi. We’re well-trained and we know what good sashimi quality is.”
The online store also has a range of frozen seafood, and platters that take the stress out of planning the seafood spread.
Oceania Seafoods Select delivers within two days in metropolitan Melbourne. The delivery fee is $8.95 (free for orders over $70 within 30 kilometres of the Melbourne CBD; free over $100 outside that radius). It also delivers to Geelong and Mornington Peninsula.